With the advent of streaming video services — and abetted by COVID-19 lockdowns — people seem to have taken up the habit of binge-watching — streaming successive episodes of a given series for hours and days on end.
Because I don’t find that much of what passes for popular entertainment these days terribly compelling, but because I was afraid I might miss something if I didn’t join the binge-watching craze, I decided to binge-watch the news for an entire weekend.
The experience taught me 11 things:
- There isn’t any more news.
- Political narratives aren’t news.
- Ideological opinions aren’t news.
- The cult of personality isn’t news.
- No one espousing political narratives or ideological opinions — or trading on the cult of personality — is capable of reporting the news.
- Empiricism, logic, common sense, intellectual curiosity, independent thought, and objectivity are dead.
- The expression, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts,” is dead.
- Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World, and Frankenstein can no longer be categorized as fiction. They’re now re-classified as pre-history or history. But they’re definitely non-fiction.
- When Karl Marx wrote, “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volke” (religion is the opium of the people), he was wrong. What passes for news is the opium of the people.
- Scientists who contend it’s impossible for brain tissue to be turned into oatmeal have never watched what passes for news (or Oprah).
- If you watch the news long enough, you’ll end up drowsy-eyed and slack-jawed; and you can actually get dehydrated from drooling.
Is There a Pill for That?
When the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-6) is published in 2023, it will add Watching What Passes For News (WWPFN) as a mental-health condition. Unlike all the other conditions in the DSM, however, WWPFN isn’t treatable. Some of its symptoms can be assuaged superficially — bulging eyes, thousand-yard stares, excessive drooling, profound torpor, constant fear, loss of speech and functional literacy, absence of family or social life, et al. But WWPFN can only be cured by Pre-Frontal Lobotomy (PFL), in which case, those duly lobotomized will be qualified to broadcast what passes for news (WPFN).
If you’d like to pre-order your very own copy of DSM-6 call 1-800-GET-WPFN. If you’d like a job broadcasting WPFN, binge-watch it for at least 24 hours, then get in line for your PFL.